When a Resident Falls

Residents living in assisted living and residential care are at risk for falling. In fact, the CDC estimates that one in three adults age 65 and older falls each year. It is important that care providers response appropriately if and when a resident falls. Your responses should include:

  1. Address any immediate health or safety issues:
    If the resident was injured during the fall, your priority is to address those immediate needs by providing appropriate first aid (if trained) and seeking additional medical attention as needed.
  2. Seek medical attention:
    In some situations it may be appropriate to follow up with the resident’s physician directly, however, depending on the severity of the fall, the resident’s condition, and other factors (such as possible head injury) you may need to call 911. You may not be able to immediately identify all injuries, and it is possible that a medical problem contributed to the fall (such as a heart attack, or stroke). If you are ever unsure if calling 911 is necessary, you are better to err on the side of caution and make the call.
  3. Report the fall:
    At a minimum you should notify the resident’s physician, responsible party/family, and your state licensing agency (if required by regulation).
  4. Adjust the plan of care, if necessary:
    You will not necessarily have to adjust your plan of care after every fall, particularly if the plan already includes interventions for falls. Follow recommendations provided by the resident’s physician, which may include medication changes, physical therapy, etc.
  5. Document, document, document…
    Always document the incident and what your response was. This may include entries in the narrative notes, incident reports, etc. Remember; if it wasn’t documented, it wasn’t done!

There may be additional steps necessary beyond these listed, but this provides a framework to ensure you have an effective fall response plan in place in your community.

For more information check out our staff training DVD: Fall Precautions in Assisted Living.

2 Responses to “When a Resident Falls”

  1. I had thought that here in California that emergency services call was required and that no one but a licensed medical person could help them up. Is this the case or would a caregiver be allowed to help them up from a fall?

  2. Hello Phil. Generally speaking you are correct, the a call to EMS (911) is the correct response and that we should not help them up, particularly if there isn’t a licensed ,education professional available. However, some providers who do have licensed professionals on staff have developed more detailed policies and decision trees. When in doubt, call 911.

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